I have some concerns about the suggestion to deploy Singapore Armed Forces soldiers to manage the huge crowd during a large-scale train breakdown ("Soldiers may help manage crowds in rail disruptions"; last Friday).
Soldiers undergo military training and focus on offensive and defensive strategies to achieve a specific objective. In the process, they have to compromise on being sympathetic and caring. This would not be helpful in dealing with civilians.
In addition, their current peacetime training does not give them experience in dealing with people in real-life crises. In a massive rail breakdown, commuters can be anxious, angry and even hostile. If not effectively managed, it may even result in a confrontation between soldiers and commuters.
Unless specially trained, the use of soldiers may not be a wise move. Perhaps, personnel from the police would be a more effective group of additional manpower to tap, as they have experience and training in managing crowds.
Lim Chong Leong